I will never be a committed locavore. I won’t give up:
I could go on and on, but you get the point. Doesn’t it make more sense to be an efficient-vore? Certain things grow better in certain places. What am I going to do for high altitude coffee beans? Grow them on top of my kitchen cabinets because that’s the highest point around?
Things taste better when they grow in their proper environment. This is called terroir, and wine people will debate endlessly about whether or not you can taste the shale that covers the root of a particular grapevine. French and Italians will come to fisticuffs over whose truffles taste better. I KNOW our orto produces the best tomatoes in the whole world. And that’s because tomatoes taste best in season, sun ripened, plucked and eaten still warm.
We need to know when to ship and when to stay local. No one hands out medals for trying to force grow lettuce in a freezing cold upstate NY greenhouse in winter. It’s simply not efficient.
Shipping has become incredibly efficient. The reason civilization spread was an indirect result of wanting what someone else had. People wanted salt, and eventually they built a city near the salt collecting area and called it Rome. Spices traveled and so did culture. We traded…I make this, you grow that, we trade.
Sarah Murray’s book, The Moveable Feast is an absolute eyeopener as she explains the pure efficiency of shipping food. It’s full of stories about things that we now take for granted and weird moments in history. Like the Clipper ship races, where the ships would leave India and race to England, arriving within moments of each other. Or the fact that UPS truck routes are set up so they have no left turns to save on fuel.
Read the book. Make informed decisions. I’m all for eating local, when it makes sense. But, when those mangoes are flooding Chinatown, and they taste this good, you know I’m going to be eating them!